Religious Claims and the Dynamics of Argument

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2001


This Article investigates the questions whether and when religious claims may enter into public debate about important political issues by considering the purposes of argument in the public square. These purposes include: (1) argument as self-disclosure; (2) argument as persuasion; and (3) argument as bulwark against engagement with the ideas of others. The Article argues that restrictions on the use of religious claims in public deliberations and discussion impede the legitimate functions of public argument as self-disclosing and persuasive activities. In contrast, such restrictions contribute to the use of argument as bulwark, which is arguably destructive to public deliberation in a pluralistic society.